Friday, November 20, 2009

Intensity and Immunity: New Research

As I've documented recently, I'm experimenting with my first real off-season, during these cool-to-cold months leading up to the Solstice. My body seems to be appreciating it. So far -- insert loud knock on nearby wooden furniture here -- I've been far stronger and healthier than last fall. Better sleep, better immune system (despite working in a community mental health center where 80% of my clients are children), better overall energy and mood.

One aspect of my program is workouts that are more frequent, but shorter and less intense. I would classify them as "light to moderate." Clearly, this fits in with the typical off-season/base-season thinking regarding building a cardiovascular fitness base. But I also have been doing it on the theory that light exercise improves overall health and immunity -- especially handy during this cold and flu season -- whereas intense exercise improves fitness (and, of course, fun), but at a cost to overall health, especially in the immune system.

This, too, is a pretty common idea. But I haven't tried it before. Too stubborn or dumb or something. Well, so far, it's been paying off. Well, today I read of some very interesting research that supports all of this, and takes it one step further: Heavy exercisers are more likely to get sick (in this case, contracting the flu) than even those who don't exercise at all. I have to admit, I'm feeling pretty good about my off-season plan today!

So, get out there and -- take it easy.

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